The attacks on Israel by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas from Gaza on October 7, 2023, represent a significant escalation in regional tensions and pose profound implications for the Middle East and the United States. These international events need to be seen in the context of the decades-long tensions and violence between Israel and neighboring states.

How much do you know about the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas? Play this “Two Truths and a Lie” game to find out.

A. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization.

B. Other countries like Iran are not involved in the conflict.

C. Palestinians make up 20% of the total Israeli population.

TRUTH! Hamas, including its military faction, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, the UK, and other nations. The group receives support from Iran in the form of funding, weapons, and training. Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 and has continued to advocate for the establishment of an Islamic state and the destruction of Israel. The group has engaged in numerous conflicts with Israel, launching thousands of rockets and executing various lethal attacks.

Lie! Hamas is only one of several Iranian-backed militant groups operating in the region seeking to undermine both Israel and the U.S.; there is also Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. The significant uptick in drone and rocket attacks launched at U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have significantly reshaped the geopolitical landscape.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is banking on President Biden maintaining his characteristic passive stance—seemingly driven by a paralyzing fear of escalation.

C. Truth! During the conflict that ensued after Israel’s declaration of independence, approximately 700,000 Palestinians, constituting about half of the Arab population in then-British-ruled Palestine, were either forced to flee or chose to leave their homes. These displaced Palestinians found refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as within the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Approximately 150,000 Palestinian Arabs chose to stay in Israel and live as part of the Jewish state. Today, there are approximately 1.6 million Israeli-Palestinian citizens, about 20% of the total Israeli population.

Bottom Line: 

The recent conflict in the Middle East demonstrates the regional instability and the U.S.’s role in international affairs. The escalating tensions pose profound implications for the Middle East and the United States. To understand this conflict, it is critical to fully understand the long history of violence that Israel and the Jewish people have faced which necessitated the country’s founding as well as the historic conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians.

In light of the escalating conflict and the recent brutal attacks by Hamas, it is imperative for the United States to adopt a robust and decisive stance.

To learn more, read the Policy Focus on Israel.